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Full Spectrum Solar Cell

Capture wasted energy in reflected visible light
  [vote for,

Was reading about how a solar heating array in the desert was blinding pilots, and it got me to thinking: light energy is still energy, any reflected light, then, is wasted energy.

I haven't had a chance to do deep research, but it seems to me there ought to be a way to make a solar system that combines infrared (heat) energy capture; regular solar energy capture; ultraviolet energy capture; and capture of the visible light rays that reflect for example off the plastic or glass that protects the cells.

I once did a design that was sort of a fractal mirror setup, assuming that at least some of the reflected light still had energy that could be captured by solar cells. Like, if you had perpendicular vanes allowing light in, but the solar cells were at angle that allowed the reflected light to hit additional cells on the vanes. Then, behind the horizontal cells would be pipes that would get heated by the infrared energy.

simpleknight, Mar 15 2014

Solar Panel Thin Film http://www.technolo...panels-work-better/
Thin film which traps more light for solar panels [simpleknight, Mar 15 2014]

Alt to full spectrum solar http://diply.com/tr...ower-on-earth/37310
This is a different way to address my idea. Infrared is heat and that is being taken advantage of here. [simpleknight, May 21 2014]


       I think it is indeed possible to reduce losses from reflection, and to capture energy over a wider spectrum by combining technologies.   

       However, the problem is cost. Basic solar panels are cost-effective only over a fairly long time, since energy is cheap and the panels are expensive. If you capture 1/5th more energy for 50% additional cost, it's probably not worth it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 15 2014

       I'm pretty sure this Idea, generically, has been a GOAL of solar-cell researchers for 50 years.
Vernon, Mar 15 2014

       Well, I'm presuming that all the new fangled methods of directly capturing energy are getting cheaper.   

       My method assumes that you would use what we already have and that some of the lost spectrum is still in the range that would give energy. And since reflections I've seen off of cheap solar panels are just like from a mirror (although obviously much less clear), a changed configuration might work.
simpleknight, Mar 15 2014

       Although I just did a search, and there's this I didn't know about (see added link about thin film to add to solar panels) which makes sense, although I wonder if it could be even better.   

       Basically, this is a partial one-way valve for light. It's a better solution than mine if it were to trap all of the incident light and eventually cause it to be absorbed by the panels.
simpleknight, Mar 15 2014

       I'm guessing this would be too expensive, but why not make the panel a tube configuration? So the light goes down little tubules to reach the cells.   

       I think that seeing as the light, itself is abundant and cheap, and can be thrown away like paper cups at public events, all you really need is to gather more of it (to the limits or of usefulness), so those balloons people came up with a few years ago, silvered on on side to reflect light to a small solar cell at their focus might give you more than saving what's free to chuck away would. I must see if I can find a link.
skoomphemph, Mar 15 2014

       Don't forget the HARD STUFF! Plenty of that HARD HARD radiation coming down from old sol. Just because the visible spectrum is prettiest doesn't mean that's it. I'm talking about the gammas and everything under and over. You gotta squeeze the juice out of all that too.   

       And what about those layabout neutrinos? If there were only some way to hook those little bastards to the plow. If only there were some way to find out what they owe and make them pay!
bungston, Mar 15 2014

       Patient / pilot: Doc it hurts when i do this. / Doc. I get blinded flying over solar furnaces.   

       Doc / Flight Surgeon : Don't DO that. / Don't fly over those furnaces.   

       You can build solar collector that adsorbs almost all the radiation. A deep cave with opening pointed at the sun for example.   

       Solar cells are optimized on one to maybe three frequencies, but they can still be designed so the radiation reflected or transmitted can be mostly captured. Unfortunately it quickly turns to heat and drops the cells electrical gathering efficiency. So heat transfer rears it's ugly head.   

       What you need is a cow that produces both electricity and thermal energy, and a BUYER for both energy streams.
popbottle, Mar 15 2014

       I like that it is a cow. Didn't see that coming.
bungston, Mar 15 2014


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